Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hidden Rock Art

The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah has a number of Rock Art Panels hidden in the canyons. Some of them are near trails and are well known, but sometimes in remote and hard to get to locations.

There are probably many others that are less known and not along any well traveled routes. This one is very good and not along a well traveled route. There are two side by side panels in an east facing alcove. The panel to the right has a gallery of reddish broad shouldered figures. The alcove is near a tamarisk filled creek in some white sandstone outcrops.
There are many white hand prints in the overall work also, some covering the reddish figures. The alcove overlooks a level area where mostly sagebrush is growing.

The panel to the left is mostly hand prints, some red and some white, and some direct prints and some outlines. This hidden panel is about 1 mile north of the Needles Visitor Center.

Lockhart Basin Trail to Pelican Arch

The road to Lockhart Basin and Hurrah Pass starts about two miles east of the park entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. The first 2.9 miles is easily drivable and passes the Hamburger Rock camping area toward a crossing of Indian Creek.

I started my hike right at the Indian Creek Crossing 2.9 miles down the road. Right at that point is the Indian Creek Falls, about a 20 foot drop off. In early November the Indian Creek was dry except for a brown pool at the base of the falls.

In spring, the crossing could be more than a foot deep. I didn’t get to see any flowing water, but my feet didn’t get wet hiking across. The road swings to the right after the crossing, then turns left and climbs away from the creek. A hiker can take a shortcut and climb directly up a sandy hill toward some arch looking rock formations and get back on the road.

The road follows along the creek for a while, then turns away and continues north toward the base of the Needles Overlook point. The top of the Needles Overlook is one of the short hiking attractions of the Canyon Rims Recreation Area that can be accessed off of Highway 191 north of the Highway 211 turnoff that leads to the Needles District of Canyonlands.

From that lofty viewpoint, the Lockhart Basin Road looks like a harsh and desolate area except for the green band of Indian Creek. A sign near the beginning of the road says it is 48 miles to Hurrah Pass. After Hurrah Pass, I think this road becomes Kane Creek Road and leads into Moab, connecting with Highway 191. During my hike I didn’t see any vehicles traveling along the road. There were several campers staying in the sites near Hamburger Rock.

About 2.5 miles down the trail there is a marked turnoff leading west down a small canyon drainage. The turnoff is labeled 25 by the Canyon Riders and is marked as being more difficult for drivers. About 0.5 miles down this side trail the Pelican Arch appears on the right.

Pelican Arch isn’t very large, barely big enough to crawl through. The Needles Overlook Point can be framed through the opening. The terrain in this area has a few scattered Utah Juniper Trees, Rabbitbrush, Mormon Tea and a few other desert shrubs. In a couple of spots the carved Needles formations can be sighted to the west.

Back at the Indian Creek Falls area, there is a pictograph panel a few hundred yards upstream that has white hand prints and lines of dots. A short distance to the right of the pictographs there are some faint petroglyphs.

My hike to the Pelican Arch took 3:00 hours for about 6 miles. It was a 60 F degree early November blue sky day and I drank 2 liters of water. I spent another 0:45 minutes looking upstream along Indian Creek for Rock Art and found just the two panels near the falls.